In the wake of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan's criticism of Republicans for politicizing the Obama administration's response to the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight, Fox News guests and hosts have responded by attacking Brennan and the administration over its handling of the bombing plot. Fox has gone so far as to ask whether Brennan should resign, and has repeatedly hosted Republican Sen. Kit Bond to say that he should.
Brennan: “I'm tiring of politicians using national security issues such as terrorism as a political football”
Brennan criticizes politicians who are using national security for “political or partisan purposes.” On the February 7 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Brennan criticized “politicians using national security issues such as terrorism as a political football,” saying, “They are going out there, they're, they're unknowing of the facts, and they're making charges and allegations that are not anchored in reality.” He further stated, “I'm just very concerned on the behalf of the counterterrorism professionals throughout our government that politicians continue to make this a political football and are using it for whatever political or partisan purposes, whether they be Democrats or Republicans.”
Brennan repeats criticism in USA Today op-ed. In a February 9 USA Today op-ed, Brennan wrote: “Politics should never get in the way of national security. But too many in Washington are now misrepresenting the facts to score political points, instead of coming together to keep us safe.” He further stated, “Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda.”
Fox guests and hosts respond by attacking Brennan and the administration, asking if Brennan should resign
Perino advanced several dubious claims on Fox & Friends, including that Abdulmutallab “bought a one-way ticket” and that “there wasn't a system in place” for the military to hold Richard Reid. On the February 8 edition of Fox & Friends, Perino criticized the Obama administration for missing “all these red flags,” claiming that Northwest airlines bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab “bought a one-way ticket” to the United States. However, Obama administration officials have stated that Abdulmutallab flew to Detroit on a round-trip ticket. Further, Perino attempted to rebut the Obama administration's comparison of its use of civilian trials for alleged terrorists with the Bush administration's similar treatment of shoe bomber Richard Reid by falsely suggesting that “there wasn't a system in place” for Bush to order Reid to be held by the military. In fact, such a system was in place by the time Reid pleaded guilty, as many suspects were placed in military detention before that date.
Happening Now hosts Hoekstra, who attacks Brennan, administration. On the February 8 edition of Happening Now, Jon Scott hosted Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) to discuss Brennan's remarks. Hoekstra stated during the segment that Brennan “is trying to change the subject to other things because of this administration's miserable record on fighting homegrown terrorism and fighting radical jihadists.
Fox & Friends hosted parade of guests with questionable credibility to attack Brennan, administration. In the two days after Brennan's remarks on Meet the Press, Fox & Friends repeatedly hosted only conservatives and opponents of the Obama administration to discuss Brennan's remarks and the administration's response to the plot. Moreover, Fox & Friends hosted these guests despite the fact that most of them have a history of making false or outrageous statements about American foreign policy or terrorism, undermining their credibility to discuss those topics.
Hannity: “Brennan sure does need a dose of common sense.” On the February 9 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity called Brennan's USA Today comments “outrageous” and said that “Brennan sure does need a dose of common sense.” He further claimed that Brennan wrote the op-ed because the “Obama administration is sick and tired of your criticism over the way they've handled the detention of the Christmas Day bomber” and that Brennan was “dispatched” by the Obama administration to “silence the crowds.”
Giuliani claims that Brennan has “done a pretty good job” of “mishandl[ing] national security.” On the February 9 edition of Hannity, Rudy Giuliani claimed that Brennan has “done a pretty good job” of “mishandl[ing] national security.”
Greta Van Susteren hosts Bond to discuss his call for Brennan to resign. On the February 10 edition of On the Record, Bond said he had “a couple of concerns about” Brennan. He claimed Brennan has “come out as a political spokesman for the White House” and claimed that Brennan did not brief him about Abdulmutallab being Mirandized and accused Brennan of not “setting up an interrogation process last year when the president back in January said the CIA can no longer interrogate.”
Hannity hosts McCain to attack Brennan. On the February 10 edition of Hannity (accessed via Nexis), Sean Hannity hosted Sen. John McCain, who said, “I can tell you Mr. Brennan, in my view, has lost all ability to affect events or to be relevant when he accuses those of us who are critical of the handling of the Christmas bomber of helping Al Qaeda. That's beyond an outrage, and it's an insult.” He claimed that Brennan was “accus[ing] us of helping Al Qaeda” and called it a “new low.”
O'Reilly: “How can you stick up for Brennan? ... He doesn't have a point.” On the February 10 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly called Brennan “a patriot and a serious man,” but criticized Brennan for the decision to try Abdulmutallab in civilian court. O'Reilly stated that “it doesn't make any sense” to use civilian courts instead of "[m]ilitary commissions, when the law of war is broken," and said, “I'm yelling at you, Mr. Brennan, OK. Get your butt in here and defend this, because it's hurting the whole country.” He later asked guest Marc Lamont Hill, “How can you stick up for Brennan and say he has got a strong point? He doesn't have a point.”
Jarrett claims Brennan “keeps making false accusations, apparently,” asks Hoekstra, “Shouldn't this guy ... resign?” On the February 10 edition ofAmerica's Newsroom, co-host Gregg Jarrett claimed that Brennan “keeps making false accusations, apparently,” and asked Hoekstra, “Shouldn't this guy, who advises the president, resign?” Hoekstra later replied that Brennan is “poisoning the well” and that Obama “probably should fire” Brennan.
Your World hosts Dana Perino to attack Brennan. On the February 10 edition of Fox News' Your World, guest host Eric Bolling claimed that “calls [are] growing today for White House counterterror adviser John Brennan to step down,” and introduced former Bush press secretary Dana Perino by saying, “this is getting pretty ugly.” Perino called Brennan's claims “egregious,” the “consequences” of which are “dire.” She called Brennan's claim that Abdulmutallab was now cooperating “interesting” and asked “what happened during the four weeks,” in which she presumed he was not.
Fox & Friends quotes Bond to slam Brennan. On the February 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, all three hosts criticized Brennan. Steve Doocy responded to Brennan's op-ed by asking, "[W]ait a minute, are you saying that if you are critical of the administration, you're helping the terrorists? It sure sounds like it." Gretchen Carlson called Brennan's assertion that Republicans were aware of Abdulmutallab being Mirandized “still up for debate” and reportedBond's call for Brennan to resign, later claiming that “he's trying to save his job at this point” and accusing him of trying to change the “political fight” to whether the Republicans knew about his status. Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked, “Did anyone think rationally that you get the most out of any would-be terrorist in 50 minutes of questioning?” Kilmeade said of Brennan's reference to Richard Reid, “If you're in a hole, you should stop digging.”
John Bolton calls Brennan “delusional.” On the February 10 edition of Fox News' Red Eye, host Greg Gutfeld asked former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, “Brennan maintains that the failed Christmas day attacker would have given less information under military custody. Do you agree or disagree with that?” Bolton replied, “He's delusional. He is just delusional. Look, the administration said first they got everything they were gonna in 50 minutes of interrogation. Now, five weeks later, they're happy that he's talking again. You can't have it both ways. You just can't.”
America's Newsroom hosts Bond to attack Brennan. On the February 11 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Jarrett hosted Bond to discuss Brennan. Jarrett asked Bond, "[W]asn't it Brennan that first politicized this when he blamed you Republicans for, quote, politically motivated fearmongering and aiding Al Qaeda?" Bond said that Brennan had not reacted appropriately when President Obama "[took] away the interrogation responsibility from the CIA." When Bond brought up Brennan's claim that he and other Republican lawmakers had been briefed by Brennan, Jarrett asked, "[A]re you telling me he was lying?" Jarrett also asked Bond, “Will you back down, or do you still believe that John Brennan needs to go?” -- but Bond shifted to attacking Obama's terrorism strategy.
Fox Nation: “Should Brennan Be Fired?” On February 11, the Fox Nation featured the headline, “Should Brennan Be Fired?”